FOSTER CARE INVESTIGATION: NCMEC Finds That 410 Children Reported Missing from DFCS Care in 5-Year Period Were Likely Victims of Child Sex Trafficking

WATCH: Video & audio of NCMEC’s opening statement

NCMEC: “We know we have an urgent issue when children feel better on the streets or with a trafficker than they do in their foster care placements.”

Atlanta, Ga. — Today, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) testified that according to their independent analysis, 410 children who were reported missing from care in Georgia to NCMEC were identified by NCMEC as likely victims of child sex trafficking.

“Between 2018 and 2022, NCMEC received over 2,400 reports of children missing from care in Georgia, involving 1,790 children, many of whom went missing several times throughout the year. 410 of these children were identified as likely child sex trafficking victims,” Dr. Samantha Sahl, NCMEC Supervisor of the Child Sex Trafficking Recovery Services Team, testified. “Trends show us that when children run away frequently or for long periods of time, they tend to be running from an unsafe situation or to an unsafe situation.”

“We know we have an urgent issue when children feel better on the streets or with a trafficker than they do in their foster care placements,” Dr. Sahl testified.

In response to a question, Dr. Sahl later testified, “We know that anytime a child goes missing, whether they are missing for a couple hours or days or weeks, they are not under the care and supervision of the agency that they are in the care of, and they are then vulnerable to experiencing any number of endangerments, including child sex trafficking. We have found that the longer a child is missing from care, or the more frequent their missing episodes become, that risk increases exponentially.”

The Federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, signed into law in 2014, requires State agencies to report a missing child to both law enforcement and NCMEC within 24 hours of receiving information about a missing child under their care [per 42 U.S.C. § 671(a)(35)(B)].

NCMEC is a nonprofit organization designated by Congress to serve as the national clearinghouse on issues relating to missing and exploited children. NCMEC is funded partially by a mandatory Federal grant from the Department of Justice and serves as a reporting and case management center for issues related to the prevention of and recovery from child victimization.

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